Monday, December 28, 2009

Mixed Blessings

I've been absent from the blog because I've had so much family stuff going on. It's been many years since I've lived close enough to them to spend the holidays together, and it's been great. I cherish the time in ways that are deeper than it was in my careless youth.

But this morning, it all changed. My dear friend Karen in Northampton died very suddenly last night from an aggressive cancer. Tonight I'm paralyzed with grief. Blessedly she went quickly and didn't suffer long, since the cancer had advanced so far it was untreatable. She's slipped through the veils beyond hurt, so my selfish tears are for my own pain in trying to cope with this unbearable loss.

I can't really talk about it yet except to say she was a very good friend. I've missed her like crazy every single day since I left Northampton. Knowing I'll be missing her for the rest of my life is not a certainty I ever wanted to reach.

Rest in peace my sweet friend.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

For those who celebrate hope you have the best Christmas ever and for everyone else, have a great day. And if you hate the holidays -- hold on. The season is almost over.

Raining here but still some snow left in the corners of the yard so it's the whitest Christmas I've had since I moved south. Enjoy. I adore you all. [graphic via]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

This was the best I could do for a Christmas tree this year. OK, so it's a Christmas basket. But it's cheery. And it's very low maintenance. Don't have to water it. And it won't take hours to take it back down.

Actually I may never take it down. I love having Christmas lights around all year. If I can snag some white ones cheap this weekend, I think I'll hang them from the ceiling like I did in Noho.

Meanwhile, it's Christmas Eve so for those who keep the tradition, have a happy one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Electric Company

Electricity is really cheap here. Meaning North Carolina in general and this little city in particular. But they also have the most primitive infrastructure I've seen since I was a kid. I mean, what the hell are these things on the pole across the street from me?

You can click on it to make it bigger if you want a closer look. They look a little scary to me. I think the electrical system here might date way back into the last century.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow in the South

This is what the snow looked like yesterday. It still looks pretty much the same today because it froze into a solid block. But I think they don't use sand here so everything stays perfectly white. Even on the curbs.

I've yet to make it inside this place. The ground conditions haven't been conducive to my shoes. I don't have heavy boots anymore. Didn't need them back in The Triangle. But one of these days I'll go in.

The stones look so interesting. This little city is very old.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Pearly Gates

My camera doesn't capture this well. It's much better in person, but these are my Dad's Christmas lights. He calls them "The Pearly Gates."

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's really snowing - hard

Crazy day. Stayed up way too late last night finishing up a trash detective novel. Rather pointless since I guessed all the outcomes half way through the book. So then I slept in way too late even though I only slept about four hours. Very easy with the curtains up on a cloudy day.

Then it started snowing and I needed to go to the store. It wasn't too bad when I went out. Wasn't sticking to the roads yet. By the time I got out of the store 30 minutes later, it was really snowing - as in sticking to the ground in the parking lot. And the roads were already over an inch deep. Drove home pretty slow and was glad I went to the closest store. They're saying 3-5 inches. Figuring we'll be on the low end in the little city here, but still it will be the most snow I've seen since I moved down here. They won't get more than an inch or so over at the other side of the state where I used to live.

Have to admit, it's very pretty. Especially from inside the warm house when you know it won't stay on the ground all that long. Wind is kicking up so it's not that much fun to sit on the porch to watch it. Just tried that and even though the porch is deep, there's a bit of ice crystals in the air so it's a little stingy.

But the coolest thing happened. This little bird came flying right up on the porch next to me. Looked right at me and then shook its little wings, as if to say, WTF is going on? Sat there for quite a while before it flew off again. I love that the birds are so tame in this hood.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas A Go-Go

This cold is still keeping me down. Been laying low and hacking up a metric ton of gunk. And why is it I feel compelled to check the color of the crap in the kleenex every time? But enough whining. Since I have nothing of interest to report, tis the season for over the top Christmas light displays. This light show concert is pretty cool.

Explanation of how it's engineered, is here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Chanukah

It's a funny thing. I've always had lots of Jewish friends so chances were pretty good at this time of year that I would score some latkes, my favorite food of the season. Haven't met a single Jew since I lived here, at least not that I'm aware of, so it's been a while.

Oddly, I'm told the church across the street is home to the oldest synagogue in the south. Weird happenings there this week. On the morning of the first day, there were maybe 15-20 cars in the parking lot, but I didn't hear any singing or anything. Then that night, the church was all lit up. There was music. But only three cars in the parking lot. I thought about crashing the service, but I was so sick, I didn't want to wander in while I was sneezing and hacking.

Wish I had at least grabbed a photo of the window lit up at night though. There's been cars there every day since, but they don't seem to use the church building, just the hall next door. I guess it may well be the oldest congregation, but apparently it's still one of the smallest.

Anyway, happy holiday to my Jewish friends. Hope you get lots of fine presents and have a latke for me.

Rest in Peace, Gene Barry

Gene Barry died this week at the age of 90. He was one of my favorite TV actors as kid. I loved him as Bat Materson

And as a millionaire cop in Burke's Law

I'm a little surprised I haven't seen more about it on the news or the blogs. I wouldn't even have known except one person mentioned it on Twitter when I happened to be there. But I'll miss him, at least as the actor who inspired one of my early teen crushes back in the day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Look! Up in the sky!

Man, this head cold is kicking my butt. Got nothing of consequence done yesterday except hang a couple of curtains. So nothing from lovely downtown to report, but this was very cool. Nobody quite knows what this light was all about, but it was in the sky over Norway for a long time.

The authorities say it was probably a failed missle launch by the Russians. I prefer to think it was space aliens from another planet. But I figure chances are it really was some kind of computer generated visual. It seems too perfect to be a natural phenomenon.

And while I'm passing on pictures, it turns out that the Georgia zoo that keeps the lion, tiger and bear together has a Flickr account with lots more pix of those critters.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Day at the Airport

Drove down to Charlotte with my sister yesterday to pick up our mother who will be spending the holidays here. It was quite an adventure. We found a new highway. That as fun. I almost got shot at the terminal. That was a little embarrassing.

Most of you know how much I love airports. I've never been in this one and I swear I didn't see the sign saying no entrance to the shops upstairs. It looked like maybe you could browse while you're waiting as you can in Hartford where they have some retail outside of the gates area. So I wasn't going to go far. Just wanted to walk to the verge and see what the shops were. I get halfway down and people start shouting. There's a young girl in a uniform holding up her white gloved hand, looking a little terrified, screaming "Ma'am - hold it right there." So I'm looking around at what's causing the excitement and realize it's me. I'm standing next to a huge sign that says Do Not Enter. Hell they should have a rope thingy if they don't want people to approach.

Really, I wasn't that embarrassed myself, but I have a feeling my sister wished she could pretend she didn't know me. She was kind of walking ahead of me rather rapidly... I behaved myself after that, but it was pretty boring waiting by the baggage claim. Airports just aren't as much fun as they used to be.

And who knows what was going on with the planets yesterday, but we just barely escaped the highway traffic jam caused by some accident just ahead of our exit. Then driving through town, there was another ambulance and cops on the main drag into town. And then about an hour later there were sirens going for about 20 minutes. I couldn't see from the house where they were going, but with that many, it was something big.

Almost didn't want to go out and get the few groceries I needed, but I braved the cold rain that started pouring just as I was leaving and made it home without incident. Glad I did. Seem to coming down a head cold today. Happy to be hunkered down in my cozy little room here with nothing pressing to do.

Lions and Tigers and Bears - Oh My

I love this story:
Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old. They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.

Delivered to the Noah's Ark animal rescue centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.

"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah's Ark zoo.
They're natural predators of each other, but in this setting, they hang out as the best of friends. Makes me wish humans were as good at overcoming their natural differences. Rest of the story is here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Walkabout It

I just checked and my walkability score for this place is 80 out of 100. Which is in the top 98 percentile that's achievable in this town. I can attest to that from my Sunday run of errands. I went out for an hour and walked to the library, took out a trash fiction book for night time reading. I actually have the room set up so I think I can read by lamplight.

Then I swung past the laundramat to pick up some quarters so I could buy a newspaper. The machine by the pharmacy was screwed up, but I found another box just a block away and was in the perfect position to cut through the alley and go to the bank machine. Got held up there by the person in front of me, who decided to hold a long conversation on the phone instead of completing her transaction, but still it was all within four blocks of the house.

This whole setup is feeling more like Noho to me every day. I don't hate that.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Major frost on the lawn this morning in lovely downtown. Going to be an unusally cold day here I think. Meanwhile, guess it's finally time to enjoy the holiday decorations. My operative in New York got a new camera and his pix are better than ever. Rockefeller Plaza.

Photo: John de Guzman

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Settling In

Had my first visitor already. Heard from an old friend who was driving through town and wanted to stop by. The place was a wreck, but this is friend who would understand and I was glad to see him. So I madly shoved the loose stuff into closets for a couple of hours and got the place presentable enough. It was a nice visit.

First trip into downtown for breakfast at the funky diner was a failure though. We walked the few blocks but found the place closed even though the sign clearly said it should be open. Some guy in a truck pulled over to let us know the owner's mom had died yesterday and he expected that's why the place wasn't open. So we trudged back home in the cold rain and I made some coffee and sent him off hungry.

An hour later I noticed that all these cars were turning around in my driveway. Thought at first it was an accident on the corner. As it turned out, it was the intrepid entrants of the Girl's Club "We Can Do It" 5K walk/run.

The guy directing traffic tells me they trained for it for months and it was going forward no matter what. Rain has calmed into a drizzle by then, but it was still cold. As they say down here, "Well, God Bless Them."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Downtown Girl

Haven't had much time to explore the downtown yet. I've been trying to get the place in order here and I'm off to rolicking start this morning. I was trying to put away some dishes while I was waiting for the coffee to drip through and managed to dump the coffee on the floor. I should know better than to try to do anything that requires physical co-ordination until after I've had my coffee. Heck, it's even dicey to try to make coffee until I've had some. Not a morning person, as those of you who know me will recall.

Anyway, I have another busy day and I only have one photo left that I took the other day. There's such a funny mix of business in this town. There's probably a dozen or so semi-fancy restaurants, but then across the street from the $22 a plate dinner, you find a club like this:

You can't see through that window so I couldn't tell if it was open and I'm not even sure what the sign says, but I want to brush up on my Spanish and see if I can get a look inside someday. I always take a members only sign as a challenge.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Out with the old

One more trip to the old place to bring the trash can behind the house from the street since I'm sure I can't count on my old neighbor to do it and I'm finally officially done. Gave the keys back yesterday. Got my security deposit back. Didn't get a bonus for leaving the place about 100 times cleaner than I found it. They don't even have to hold the money in escrow and give you the couple of bucks interest in this state apparently.

But no matter. The utilities are all switched over. I got to keep my old phone number. They charged me almost $50 for the transfer of the account but it's worth it to keep the really great landline that's easy to remember.

Of course, now I have to start putting things away here. I haven't gotten very far with that yet. So far, all I've done is scrub the tub and hang a new shower curtain. I just couldn't get up much energy to tackle it today, but it's odd how comfortable I feel here already even though it's a mess. Everything is mostly stacked up in the living room, but I have this sixth sense like I've lived here forever already. From the first night, I could walk around in the dark and not bump into things and find the light switches instantly. The only tricky ones are for the hall lights. Because they can be switched from the apartment or from the hall, the on/off part isn't always true. Still getting used to that.

Still, while this is probably the ugliest apartment I've ever lived in, I'm loving the space. It feels just as big as the 2 bedroom place I just left. Probably has slightly less square footage but it's really well laid out so it has more useable space. And another bonus is my rabbit ears work really well here. I get a lot more stations, including two that play Grade B movies and another that runs old Stargate episodes every night. Thinking I still won't bother to get cable here. Since they changed the format on the Weather station, there's not that much I miss about having it and then I'm not tempted to get irritated by watching the cable news programs. Reading that stuff on the internet is irritating enough.

Anyway, so far, so good. I'll be back to more regular posting again soon.